Projections - Page 3

A long list of short takes on SFIFF 57, in chronological order

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A teen fights for her rights in Ethiopian drama Difret.
Photo courtesty San Francisco Film Society

Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze, Estonia/Georgia, 2013) It's 1992, and carpenter Ivo (Lemit Ulfsak) and farmer Marcus (Elmo Nuganen) are old neighbors who are practically the only residents left in their rural Abkhazia village — everyone else has fled the approaching war between Georgian and Russia-backed North Caucasian forces that erupted over this disputed land after the USSR's dissolution. The 60-something men have stayed behind out of habit, and to harvest Marcus' latest (perhaps last) tangerine crop. When a shootout on Ivo's doorstep leaves him stuck with one wounded soldier from each side, these uninvited guests must be kept from outside discovery — and from one another's throats — as they recover. Wry and poignant, Georgian writer-director Zaza Urushadze's antiwar microcosm is beautifully crafted, particularly in Rein Kotov's gorgeous photography of the verdant countryside. Sat/26, 9pm, Kabuki; Sun/27, 6:15pm, Kabuki; May 6, 8:30pm, PFA. (Harvey)

The Sacrament (Ti West, US, 2013) This very disappointing latest by Ti West, of flavorful indie horrors The House of the Devil (2009) and The Innkeepers (2011), basically puts a piece of tracing paper over the climactic events at Jonestown, changing the names but otherwise refusing to do anything different — or really anything at all — with that historical model of mass religious cult freak out. Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen, and Kentucker Audley play filmmakers who visit a secretive jungle compound in order to figure out if somebody's sister (Amy Seimetz) is staying there of her own free will or not. She seems to be doing OK, and in fact appears to be the favored apostle of enigmatic leader "Father" (Gene Jones). But once the strangers get a glimpse behind the facade of their carefully stage-managed visit, they glean that not everyone is happy here — indeed, some may be desperate to escape. Despite some good performance moments, there's little psychological insight or real suspense to this fictionalized take on the 1978 catastrophe at Rev. Jim Jones' Guyana settlement, and its quasi-"found footage" aesthetic feels very tired. Sat/26, 11:45pm, Kabuki; Mon/28, 9pm, Kabuki. (Harvey)

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, US, 1979) Stage and screen choreographer and director Bob Fosse's autobiographical phantasmagoria modeled itself on Fellini's very Italian 1963 8 1/2 (which also inspired the stage/film musical Nine), but its heart is pure, cold American show-biz brass. Roy Scheider is terrific as Fosse alter ego Joe Gideon, a driven workaholic whose decades of numerous excesses (pills, smoking, women, etc.) have put him at serious risk of a fatal heart attack just as he's simultaneously starting rehearsals for a Broadway musical and finishing up editing on a Hollywood feature. The external pressure is exceeded only by his own compulsive perfectionism. He reviews his life of professional triumphs and failed relationships as it very possibly sputters toward an end. Like Joe's character (and creator), Jazz is egomaniacal, charming, over-the-top, sexy, sexist, indulgent, and overbearing — a glitzy portrait of a brilliant heel, with dazzling musical numbers. Seldom revived in recent years, it's being shown in a newly restored print. Sun/27, 12:30pm, Kabuki; May 2, 8:30pm, PFA. (Harvey)